Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

MOFA insists ties with Nicaragua are `close and stable'


The country's relations with ally Nicaragua are stable, despite reports that president-elect Daniel Ortega may switch the Latin American country's allegiance to China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday.

"Our ties with Nicaragua are close and stable. We have many plans for ongoing cooperation and we hope the new Nicaraguan leader will further promote our bilateral ties on a mutually beneficial basis," ministry spokesman David Wang (王建業) said.

Former US Cold War foe Ortega won Nicaragua's presidential election on Wednesday, 16 years after he was voted out of office at the end of a bloody civil war against US-backed Contra rebels.

Ortega, of the reformed Sandinista Party, has since traded his Marxist policies for a more liberal political agenda.

Taipei in 1985 severed ties with Managua when Ortega's government recognized Beijing, but re-established diplomatic relations with it in 1990.

Ortega had previously vowed to recognize Beijing if re-elected.

"That was some 20 years ago and against the backdrop of a civil war. We are cautiously optimistic that Oretga would consider current domestic and international situations to maintain ties with Taiwan," Wang said.

Nicaragua is one of only 24 countries that recognizes Taipei rather than Beijing.

Officials said yesterday that the ministry will enhance communication with Nicaragua's new leader and "will unfold active cooperative plans with Nicaragua to consolidate the two nations' relations."

The officials did not elaborate on what they meant by "active cooperative plans."

Simon Ko (柯森耀), director-general of the ministry's Department of Central and South American Affairs, said yesterday during a regular press briefing that he held an optimistic attitude on the relations between Taiwan and Nicaragua -- although he admitted that the ministry was concerned about some of Ortega's remarks.

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